Highfields Remembered top bar showing extracts from some of the images in the database - click to skip navigation

Linda Cox who was born in 1948.

My name is Linda Cox, I was born in 1948 in a little terraced house in Beeby Road, just off Cottesmore Road and I lived there for the first 23 years of my life. I suppose you might say that I lived on the edge of Highfields – I remember, my dad always used to tell me that we 'live in North Evington', which I always found very amusing.

I was very fortunate in having a wonderful and happy childhood, everything we needed was close at hand. The Spence Street Swimming Baths was situated just at the back of our tiny street, but, being kids, we couldn't take the long way round via Bridge Road, instead we would go down to the brook at the bottom of the street, and slip through a convenient gap in the railings. We went swimming sometimes twice a day in the summer. The pool was closed during the winter months and used for wrestling bouts. The price of a swim then in the 1950s was 6D (2 1/2 pence).

Near to the railings was a piece of land which is now a nature reserve, but when I was a young girl, we would build our bonfire there every year. This land was owned by a Mr Phillips. I remember one day when I was out playing on my own, I saw this man dressed to the hilt in what appeared to be a spaceman's outfit, complete with helmet and visor. I was almost paralysed with fear and ran in home to tell mam and dad that the Martians had landed near the brook! On investigation, it turned out that he was just doing a spot of welding with his oxy-acetylene equipment!

Next to the swimming baths was what my dad used to call the "Destructors". It was run by the council, and when all the refuse collections had been carried out, it was brought here to be destroyed and burned. There was a very tall chimney standing on this ground, and on certain days my poor mam couldn't hang her washing out because of the black bits of soot flying from the chimney when it was burning the rubbish. This chimney was later dismantled brick by brick.

Certain items of laundry like my dad's best shirts were taken to the little Chinese Laundry on East Park Road. This was near to the newsagents shop, then newly-owned by Mr and Mrs Nuttall. Their son Robert went to the same school as me – St Barnabas Infant and Junior. A bit further along from the newsagents shop was a cake shop, a florists, and on the corner, I think it was Eastwood Electrical.

On Sundays after dinner, I would be sent round the corner to Rossa's Ice Cream Factory (which is still there) to get the milk lollies at 3D each, and delicious they were too!

I used to go shopping with mam on Saturday mornings in Green Lane Road. We would first go to the grocers, a double fronted shop just a bit further along from Baradells the clothes shop. I remember that the sugar, mixed fruit and other dry goods were weighed and packed into those small blue bags. All the items were listed into my mam's little exercise book, and certain things were put on 'tick' to be carried over to the next week when she could pay. Then it would be a visit over the road to Mr and Mrs Hindmarsh for the fruit and vegetables. Occasionally, we would go to the chemist shop on the corner of Bridge Road, (it had an extremely small customer area in those days) it was run by a friendly husband and wife team. I always loved it when mam could spare a penny, and I would hop onto the old-fashioned scales to be weighed. This was then followed by a stick of barley sugar for me as an extra treat!

Across the road from the chemist was a Worthington food store which was the nearest thing to a Supermarket in those days! Humbucker Music shop is now occupying these premises. Over the road was a shop called Walters the Jewellers, a German man who used to intrigue me with his accent. This shop was in the same block as where the 'Sha-Nawaz Video' now stands.

When it came to recreation, I always had lots of trips to the Spinney Hill Park with my dad. We walked along the East Park Road, past the old Marston's sweet factory, and when the windows were open, the smell of the fruit-flavoured sweets was devine – really mouth watering – it's the kind of smell that many local people will remember! We always entered the park by the main entrance. Across from these gates stands a church and I was always fascinated by the figure of Jesus on the cross, and the little wooden board underneath which read 'Is it nothing to you all ye that pass by?'

Once on the park we'd pass by a huge, colourful circular flower bed on our right, with a brick shelter nearby for the old people to sit in and talk. My dad would help me to do 'hand stands' and 'wheelbarrows' on the grass, and then we would have a game of Poor Man's Golf on the putting green. Then of course it was time for the obligatory ice-cream bought from the Pavillion which was then situated at the top of the hill.

When I was out playing with my friends, we used to walk for what seemed like miles along the 'hossy' or Willowbrook, underneath the tunnels with our wellies on, or sometimes even barefoot looking for adventure. We would find snails and tiddlers, and on one memorable occasion, we found a complete set of dentures grinning up at us through the murky waters! Mam wasn't very pleased when I went running home with my prized possession!

In the summer months whole gangs of us kids would go to the park for picnics – we felt very grown up having been given sole charge of any little ones for the day. We took old pop bottles filled to the brim with sugar and water (uggh!) and jam and margarine sandwiches. I remember once when we were really hungry opening the food to find what seemed like thousands of tiny money-spiders crawling around having a banquet on our jam! After the disastrous picnic, we'd paddle in the brook on the park, always keeping a watchful eye for the 'Parky' who used to ride his bike through the park. Many kids used to get their clothes wet in the brook and you could see, boys especially, banging their water-logged thick socks on the bank of the brook, trying to get them somewhere near wearable before they reluctantly returned home!

My earliest memories of old 'Charny' (Charnwood Street) go back to when I was about 3 years old. I remember, perhaps a couple of afternoons a week, I would listen to the radio prtogramme 'Listen with Mother' then at 2 o'clock. The peg rug was rolled up, the fire guard put up against the coal fire and mam would take me to visit my aunt Betty who lived somewhere near Upper Charnwood Street. There was no push-chair involved – I had to walk! It perhaps explains my love of walking everywhere now – I got so used to it at such an early age. However, progress was very slow, and when we passed by the old Green Lane School, mam would wait patiently whilst I walked along the long, low brick wall which used to run parallel with the old building. I remember holding onto high green railings and moving along inch by inch!

Perhaps one afternoon a week, mam would take me to the Imperial Cinema otherwise known as the flea-pit! I think this is now a warehouse and stands on the corner of Mornington Street near to the Laundrette. Once inside the pictures we would sit through the matinee and watch the Three Stooges and Norman Wisdom films. I used to like the smell of the air freshner which the usherettes used to spray around the place.

Sometimes as a family we would go in the evening either to the old 'Shas' (The Shaftesbury) or if we felt like a change, to the majestic looking Evington with its twin domes. When the latest craze for Hula-Hoops (not the snack food, but the swirl-around-the-waist type) came in, my dad bought one for me for half-a-crown (12 new pence). It was bright yellow, and because I wouldn't be parted from it I even took it to the cinema with me!

When I was nearing my teens, it seemed that my friend Lynda Cowles and myself were always hanging around Charny, looking for bargains or boys! We once got the shock of our lives when we thought we were looking quite glamorous to find we had been covertly photographed by the 'Leicester Chronicle' and appeared on the front page as "Two young window-shoppers". We both had short hair cuts and were wearing our gabardine school macs and ankle socks! We never lived it down.

All in all, although we had no television in our house, or telephone, bath or running hot water we coped well. We were never bored and we could go anywhere we wanted and were able to grow up without any modern horrors of to-day that kids have to be educated about at such an early age. We didn't have to have so many awareness campaigns thrust at us – and we were so much better and stress-free for it!

De Montfort University